To understand the possibilities of nanotechnology weapons, we need to understand the history of nanotech.
The idea of molecular manufacturing was first proposed by Erik Drexler, who wrote Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology (1986).
Erik spoke of building robots, motors, and other machines at the molecular scale. He faced much criticism for his ideas during the 1980’s, and was not taken seriously. Meanwhile technology was developing to the point where molecular manufacturing became a reality. In the early 2000’s governments started to fund research into nanotech. Through the National Nanotechnology Initiative the USA has invested 3.7 billion dollars into such research to date.
In 2006 the International Risk Governance Council organized a workshop in Zurich for creating a “Conceptual Risk Governance Framework for Nanotechnology”. They categorized the levels of nanotechnology into frames based on the evolution of knowledge, complexity, and consequences.
What we are interested in is the 4th frame. This frame is basically whenâ? molecular manufacturing (MM) will become a reality. If nano engineers don’t reach this stage in 2015-2020, it is believed they will certainly reach it by 2020-2025. So exactly what is MM?
Molecular manufacturing is the ability to build machines at a scale of 1-100 nanometers, with every atom in a specific place. Although we are yet to reach this level of technology, the implications are profound. Consider what would happen when scientists successfully create a nano-factory that is capable of duplicating itself. The technology would advance so fast and be so cheap that it would beâ? available to any country. Although it isn’t known when this technology will become available, it is public knowledge that it would grow exponentially.
The exponential growth of molecular nanotechnology (MNT) would destroy the economy, job markets, and much more. The black market would flourish, and countries would break away from alliances under the new power of MNT. The UN would also cease to have any control over international problems. All of these things would be happening while inevitably waiting for nano-machines to create a doomsday scenario. This scenario is known as an ecophagy (the consumption of an en ecosystem). Imagine a world where self-replicating nano robots consume all matter on earth while exponentially duplicating. This situation was coined as “grey goo” by Erik Drexler, and is something that we can not afford to create.
Some people believe that we are nowhere near manufacturing nanotechnology. Although no one can look into the future, there are main two scenarios regarding the creation of nanotechnology. The first one is that by the time this technology becomes a reality, world peace will have also been solved. Something that even Erik Drexler believes.
I asked Drexler why in his speech he did not mention the Ã¬Engines of DestructionÃ®; that is, nano-weapons for the defense of the United States and the free West in general. DrexlerÃs answer was that when the engines of creation had been realized universally, the problem of world peace would have also been solved, and so there would be no need for the nano-engines of destruction.
–Future Wars Will Be Waged With Nano-Weapons
The second scenario is that we figure out how to manufacture nanotechnology before world peace is solved. At which point the technology would evolve so rapidly that there is no way of knowing for sure what may happen.
A good analogy showing how far away we are from nanotechnology would be as such: Leonardo Da Vinci is provided with blueprints and books on building a computer factory. He is even provided with all the information on building the tools necessary inside the factories. He has all the information necessary to create electricity, etc. The only problem is, he doesn’t have the basic tools needed to assemble the factory machines. He has everything but a thermometer, screwdriver, and necessary tools to mold everything else that is needed. If he had all these basic tools we could assume that once he builds his first factory he will know how to build many more.
The same goes forâ? nanotechnology. All the theories of MNT are just. We understand what is needed to build intensive nano-machines, but we don’t have the basic building blocks. The basic building blocks would be nano-assemblers. Once we build the first reliable assemblers,Â nanotechnology will grow exponentially. When we will understand how to create the building blocks, we can work our way to the currently theoretical nano-machines. Would Leonardo and the people in his time be ready for a computer? Will we be ready for nanotechnology?
The Endless Possibilities of Nanoweapons
Nanoweapons would make nuclear weapons as useless as guns made the bow and arrow. Nuclear weapons can be credited to having prevented major wars after their invention. A question that I’m going to leave up to you is: Would nanoweapons prevent war or fuel it?
Many of these weapons will also have a defensive scenario. If nanotechnology is so far along that nanobots are able to fly and navigate the human body then it is only logical that nanobots can also fly and watch out for hostile bots. Keep that in mind when it seems like the targets of these weapons are defenseless.
A nanobot could be dropped into someone’s food which is designed to hurt the host. It only takes 100 nanograms of Â Botulism to kill a human. The nanobot can wait until it has reached the brain, and then deploy its payload. The results would be flawless and devastating.
In stealth operations the nanobot could induce strokes or any other body failures. A nanobot that destroys an artery in the brain can be confused as a brain aneurysm. Â Don’t forget the possibilities of nanobombs. Those won’t go very well with your brain or lungs.
A nanobot can fly into an enemies eye and burrow itself until it reaches a critical part such as the optical nerve. Once there, the nanobot can damage the nerve. Although the enemy would be blinded temporarily; nanotechnology would be advanced enough to be able to repair the nerve.
These nanobots could also destroy any nerve in the body such as the spinal nerves. Nanobots could also be used to destroy pain receptors. Something that will make soldiers feel invincible.
Imagine a small nanobot is deployed with one purpose. To infiltrate a computer and monitor the frequencies picked up in the RAM. It may also steal the information off of the hard drive. The Pentagon already worries that devices can be built to monitor your computer screen through only the frequencies given off by the display..
Everyone’s video-display terminal emits unique radio-frequency waves that can be isolated and captured with a “directional” antenna focused on a particular computer or room. Those signals can then be amplified with fairly inexpensive equipment and reconstructed to show precisely what is on your screen.
How could this become a reality? This particular nanobot could drop off signal transmitters as it travels towards the computer to be monitored. Once there it sends out the frequencies to the other nanobots which eventually reach it’s controller. There the information could be reconstructed to show the sensitive data. Although computers can be easily hacked, nanobots would provide access to networks that are not connected to the internet.
Nanocameras could also be attached to an infinite amount of flies and animals which could spy on an enemy. These camera could also come embedded into stickers and other electronics. Phones and cameras could be nanobugged to transmit all information from the device.
Nanobots could provide basic brainwashing capabilities such as: Destroying your memory and making you feel good or bad about a certain thought. Call it “Positive Reinforcement” if you will. The attacker can deploy this nanobot onto his enemy. He would be able to reprogram his victim while talking about various subjects with him. In a battle situation nanobots could be used against the enemy to make them feel lethargic and loving. A lethargic and loving enemy is not really an enemy.
Generally when you think about the impacts of future technology you want to create little thought experiments. A thought experiment I find to be very effective is imagining what Hitler would do with the technology at hand. So let’s say Hitler can create nanobots. These nanobots could be spread through food and water, and be designed to kill certain ethnicities. That is just about the worst thing that nanobots can be programmed to do.
Luckily nanotechnology will be cheap enough to manufacture and duplicate. So in this case nations with billions of dollars can easily create nano-defense machines. In a case like this, it would be who can create the most destructive nanobots vs who can create the most defense nanobots. It would essentially create another nuclear arms race. If war were to break out it would be happening at the nano scale.
These nanobots could be designed to make your enemy infertile. Although as with other non-lethal nanoweapons, there are always going to be counter nano-solutions.
Nanobots could duplicate the entire human DNA, sperm, and eggs. In more complicated projects they could clone entire humans. Cloned soldiers anyone?
If you think about it, once nanotechnology is a reality anything will be able to used in the nano scale. Nano-knife, nano-bullet, etc. It seems like nanotechnology is the most realistic step into the future when compared to true self learning A.I. and teleportation. Â Making smaller things doesn’t come without consequences; but it sure as anything will change the world. The beauty of it is that evolution never stops. These four frames that the IRGC came up with can always be expanded. The fifth frame can include the merging of nanobots and biology. The next frame may include building an utopia. Think about it. If you can use nanobots to control your brain, you wouldn’t even need money and possessions to be happy. You could stimulate any living experience in your head. An even more far fetched idea is the use of nano-bots to download all your memory. Once you die, if ever, your memory is reloaded into another clone.
It seems like nanotechnology will not just create another technology boom. It may very well change the future of mankind.
Matter doesn’t behave the same way at the nano level as it normally does. For example, at the nanoscale an electron can teleport. It is calledÂ quantumâ? tunneling. Nothing works the way you would expect it to work. Gold atoms for example no longer look yellow at the nano level, they look red.
On an unrelated matter, you can experience the frustrations of creating nanotechnology for yourself. You can do this by playing The Game of Life.Â It is a game that was created by John Conway as a simple emulator for living populations. Here are the rules:
- For a space that is ‘populated’:
- Each cell with one or no neighbors dies, as if by loneliness.
- Each cell with four or more neighbors dies, as if by overpopulation.
- Each cell with two or three neighbors survives.
- For a space that is ’empty’ or ‘unpopulated’
- Each cell with three neighbors becomes populated.
Through just these simple rules many different machines and spaceships can be created. Trying to improve nanotechnology is like trying to create a spaceship factory in this game. Except thatâ? nanotechnologyâ? is 100x more complicated. If you don’t believe that such contraptions can be created through those simple rules, then you might like to check out this video.
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Today we can manipulate individual atoms, but this is just a journey. A journey which will give us the power to manipulate the very stuff of our universe. Matter itself. We are on the brink of aâ? revolution which will give us control, exquisiteâ? control of our physical world. -Dr Michio Kaku (Theoretical physicist and futurist)
Article written byÂ Octavian Ristea.
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